Blog Archives

  • four letter words

    May 6, 2016

    I sent my first attempt at a children’s fantasy novel to a publisher when I was 21. It came straight back, and I didn’t feel brave enough to repeat the experiment, and I spent my twenties concentrating on drawing, where

  • neighbour's garden

    my neighbour’s garden

    November 21, 2015

      This is the front garden of my neighbour’s house, in Leytonstone, London. Her choice of decoration is full of historical – and mythological – resonances. She is an Irish Catholic grandmother (the Virgin Mary is, of course, a bit

  • kill my pig small

    Evolving a visual style

    November 13, 2015

    I have always been a drawer not a painter, and I love crisp, clean decisive lines. The whole business of decision-making fascinates me – in life and art. I’m with G.K. Chesterton when he says: “All my life I have

  • stunt bike

    the Real Live Game

    November 6, 2015

    My older brother, Peter (now a philosophy professor) has had a life-long love of motorbikes. I drew this picture, of a stunt rider leaping through a wall of flame, when I was about 7, and it would have been in

  • ExploreSTORYBOARD 2015

    a simple story pattern

    October 9, 2015

      All stories begin with a problem, a dilemma, a conflict. Something is wrong, and out of balance – a storm is brewing… As William Faulkner said, stories are about ‘the heart in conflict with itself.” The usual picture book

  • oldwoman&pigSMALL

    The Old Woman and the Pig

    June 26, 2015

    So much is said about the importance of books and reading, but language and stories begin with talking and singing, not reading. Nursery rhymes are stories: Humpty Dumpty, the Grand Old Duke of York, Jack and Jill. When I was tiny

  • My life as a river

    June 4, 2015

    This is an article I wrote a few years ago for the Children’s Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook. It’s being reprinted again this year. An illustrator’s life It helps me to think of my life as a river: water is a

  • not your rock (small)

    This Is My Rock

    April 27, 2015

    One of my usual ‘tricks’ to generate stories is to mix up ideas from my own life with imagery and themes from fairytales and legends. I loved the Ladybird books when I was small and The Three Billy Goats Gruff

  • The Roman Vergil

    The Roman Vergil

    April 27, 2015

    I love naive art, and there is something magical about the sweetness and awkwardness of these pictures. They are from a manuscript of the Aeneid, known as ‘The Roman Vergil’ – one of the earliest surviving illustrated books – when the

  • Bear

    April 27, 2015

    This bear was for a greetings card to send to a friend. It was an old sketch from my book A Letter for Bear.